Partition walls are great for adding usable space to a home. Not only will they help you get the most out of a given space, but building a partition wall can also teach you a lot about home construction. Here is a quick guide to framing a partition wall and door.
Parts of a Partition Wall
A typical partition wall is made up of four components: the top plate, the floor plate (also called the sole), wall studs, and blocking. The top plate runs the entire length of the floor while the floor plate stops between doorways. The studs run vertically, connecting the top and floor plates to create a solid structure. Most partition walls are non-load bearing, so you do not have to worry about supporting weight from above.
Step 1 - Planning
The first step is to measure the length of the room to determine how much lumber you will need to purchase for the project. This is also the time to plan where you want to place the door in the partition wall. This is largely left to personal preference, but make sure there is plenty of space around the door for the support studs. If you need a visual representation of the wall, place tape on the floor or use spare 2 x 4s to lay out the floor plate. When purchasing the lumber, plan on buying the longest 2 x 4s that are available for the top plate. If possible, it's recommended to make the top plate in one piece.
Step 2 - Cut Top and Sole Plates
With your measurements in hand, you can go ahead and cut the top plate and sole. Remember that the top plate will run the entire distance of the partition wall while the sole stops between doorways. After the cuts are finished, mark the location of the studs on the top plate and sole. The studs should be spaced out every 16 or 24 inches from the center, whatever your preference.
Step 3 - Install the Sole Plate
Use a chalk line to guide the installation of the sole plate. Work your way across the room, making sure the sole plate is straight relative to the wall before nailing it down. The chalk line should help you keep everything straight.
Step 4 - Assemble the Wall
Building the rest of the wall on the floor will speed things up and make it easier to keep square. Each stud should be nailed to the top plate using the marks you made earlier. Leave extra space around the door opening for an extra 2 x 4 on each side, plus an additional three inches. After the entire wall is put together, simply raise it into place above the sole plate. Secure the studs into the bottom plate by hamming the nails at a 45 degree angle, also known as toenailing.
Step 5 - Frame the Door
The door to the partition wall will need to be reinforced so that it can properly hold the weight of a door. The door will feature a header at the top, which is comprised of two 2x4s that run horizontally to the top plate. These are secured to the top plate with four vertical blocks. Below the header, you should install an extra 2x4 on each side of the opening, butted up against the closest stud. When you are finished framing the door, the opening should be around three inches wider than the size of the door and one and a half inches taller.
Step 6 - Block the Wall
The final step in framing a partition wall is to add a series of blocking in between the studs. These blocks will provide an added layer of support for the wall and help prevent it from bowing in the future. You can install these blocks in a straight line or zigzag them for even greater coverage. This is not a required step, but it does make the wall stiffer.